The Swiss venture leaders 2008 meet Y-combinator
Y-combinator is a very well known seed stage venture firm for any US IT entrepreneurs. With the Swiss venture leaders 2008 team, we met the two founders Paul Graham and Jessica Livingston at their head quarters in Boston last month. The first one is famous for his nice posts about start-ups as well as his early experience in the web development business (vieweb launched before hotmail!). The second one, Jessica Livingston, is the famous author of Founders at Work (2007), a book of interviews with startup founders. Yes the video quality is not great because we were just their as an informal meeting afternoon.
Sequence 1: introduction
Talking about weather in Silicon Valley versus weather in Boston area; the general dynamics for start-ups; traditional vs new start-up funding; ycombinator collects a lot of data about founder psychology: what is working, what is not. Discussion about investing in people rather in technology. Y combinator invests small amounts of money: 5000$ + 5000$ per founder.
The life for a start-up backed by Y combinator. Ycombinator invite speakers for new start-up entrepreneurs every months. Founders are much better speakers than lawyers. Paul’s suggestion: instead of taking care too much about legal forms, intellectual property and so on… his suggestion: Build the damn product! The most important thing: having a product that people like and uses. VCs like when you have a lot of users.
@3min10s: “Start-ups die of suicide, seriously”. Not because of a competitor. Competitors do not kill startups. When entrepreneurs ask him about company image, IP, trade show, patent search… no, make the damn product!
At the beginning, it is normal that a start-up is constantly on the edge of failure disasters, servers are broken, people tell you are amateurs… at the end: success or die. 1st year (until year 3): entrepreneur should expect disasters. Psychology of founders: Ups and Downs, disasters and then the next day: Super, following day: disaster. Competing product? do not worry! Real problems: if 2 co-founders squeeze then you need to talk and try to arrange things.
What about start-up communication, visiblity? For launching a start-up: techcrunch help to know in the early adopters community. Then blogosphere is very important today. Forget about PR firms (on in the 90’s).
Selection process of start-up @ Y combinator: gettin better in picking the right ones.
You need to be really committed, not only 3 months summer program. Dinner every month for the 3 1st months. Not much structure about Y combinator. As good investors, they will give good advices.
Sequence 4: conclusions.